Tanjung Tualang’s Yew Kei Seafood Restaurant – Where the Locals EatJuly 3, 2010 | 37,082 views
Steamed Freshwater Prawns with Egg whites – Lined up remarkably with their vibrant orange-hued shells and some with golden luscious roes oozing from the smashed heads!
Tanjung Tualang is a small town located about 40km away from Ipoh town. No doubt the township is almost synonymous for its very famous freshwater prawns, aside from the infamous tin dredge near to Chenderoh (a short distance away from Tanjung Tualang) which was (and probably still is) precariously threatened with the prospects of being submerged in the waters. The tin dredge was opened to the public at a fee, but not sure if it’s still offering the tour in and around the dredge. (You can view some great shots from brandoneu’s blog here)
At a corner lot in the square formation of one-storey shoplots forming the perimeters surrounding the market, Yew Kei Seafood Restaurant appeals more to the locals, and came highly recommended from not one, not two, but a few of my friends and relatives staying in the town, or nearby.
Now let’s get to the more interesting part of this post; the FOOD. Or might as well categorize them as SEAfood. Or in particular; the Tanjung Tualang’s famous freshwater prawns. They come in various sizes, with their respective prices. A kilogram of the L-sized prawns cost RM78/USD23.60, a kg of M-L sized ones will set you aback at RM68/USD20.60, while the M-sized ones are priced at RM60/USD18 per kg.
I went to Luen Fong Restaurant once before, about a year ago, and prior to that, Lung Seng sometime back in 2008. Both of the restaurants were good, the latter being the better choice for me personally, for the freshwater prawns fared much better. But of course, there are detractors that swear by Luen Fong’s prolific legacy (they were even featured in a Guangzhou food documentary, aside from the local ones). So why did I pick Yew Kei this time around, a relatively unknown name that has been dwarfed by the other giants? Read on to find out …..
Absolutely gorgeous would be the correct adjective to describe the prawns. The head has been slightly ‘punctured’ possibly to release the sweet, umami juices from within?
Most people will go for the largest varieties, at only a barely noticeable difference in pricing. But the larger the prawns, the harder for them to be cooked. At least that’s what I was told. Furthermore, more prawns means it is easier to be shared amongst the diners. And just like the other restaurants in Tanjung Tualang, you can opt to have your prawns to be cooked in different ways; for instance half a kg to be steamed, while another half to be fried, cooked with oats/nestum, or butter-cream style(nai yau).
Of course, don’t be a pesky eater and pick one kilo of prawns and ask for them to be cooked in 4 different manners. Then you’d be better off donning the aprons and asked to enter the kitchen yourself.
Kon Chin Har, or pan-fried prawns with soy sauce is an evergreen method of cooking the prawns. Preserving the succulent, firm flesh within the crunchy (and perfectly edible) crustaceans’ shells.
We requested for 600grams of the medium-sized prawns to be steamed, and another 600grams to be served in a “Kon Chin Har” style. The yardstick in measuring a restaurant’s “Kon Chin Har”? Mun Choong‘s terrific version, of course!
At Yew Kei, the steamed prawns were done so marvelously. The broth was more than mere sauce – the soupy broth was savoury, slightly spiked with Chinese wine and contained lots of ginger strips and egg whites. The prawns were steamed to the right temperature and degree, leaving no rooms for complaints. And let’s not go to the bright vermilion coloured roes embed within the carapace of the prawn. Set some statins aside and relish; all the while throwing caution to the wind !!!
The pan fried prawns (“Kon Chin Har” in Cantonese) at Yew Kei were delicious as well, but a tad too oily. No thanks to the generous addition of pork lard fritters to the dish, balanced off with lots of coriander leaves as garnish. Save the trouble of peeling the shells, and just pop everything into your mouth (break off the head first, if you desire). The shells are crispy enough, and may just supply you with ample calcium intake for the whole week ……
Cuttlefish in Satay Sauce (RM10/USD3) – Don’t write this off as just another “Sotong Kangkung” (Cuttlefish with Blanched Water Convolvulus) wannabe.
I have never been a fan of “Sotong Kangkung”. Ipoh folks must be aware of a certain Kedai Makanan dan Ais Kacang Leong Kee on Jalan Pasir Puteh which serves possibly one of the best version in Ipoh. And the overdose of Sotong Kangkung way back in my primary school days had me weary and a little phobic of the nutty and sweet sauce drenching the dried cuttlefish with kangkung.
But Yew Kei makes a fantastic version of the slightly familiar ‘dish’, as much as I would like to call this an appetizer, or a snack (much like Rojak, the epitome of Malaysian salads). The sauce tasted like a mix of assam gravy with satay peanut sauce, liberally tossed with crushed, toasted peanuts on top of the springy slices of cuttlefish. I was enthralled. Mesmerized maybe …. for I never would have imagined singing praises for another “Sotong Kangkung” (though Yew Kei’s version does not include the greens). Ever.
Ironically … we had Kangkung. Albeit as another stand alone dish, stir-fried with sambal belacan. And guess what … MORE lard fritters! I was in heaven, but a notion not shared by the others. Oh well.
Crispy, lardy goodness that is a nightmare for some, and a dream come true for the others. Are you a fan, or are you not?!
The inclusion of lard fritters in the dishes did make a huge difference. Any way you want to see it. Of course the health freaks would be sweating buckets, knowing that every fibre of the kangkung might be drenched with the greasy nightmare ……. and if even the greens are not excused, what more with the other meat dishes?!
But promise yourself a good 10km (or 1km also can lah …) run the very next morning, or evening. And indulge away. After all, you don’t get to see lard fritters being used that often in Chinese dishes nowadays. Not even in the perennial favourite of mine; Char Koay Teow.
In conclusion, Yew Kei Seafood Restaurant can literally whip up a culinary storm. As most locals (or the fans) argue about the prices, I found that they did not differ much from Lung Seng, or even Luen Fong. Though I have not paid Sun Mee Fong (the most media-friendly one, as you can see the Axian’s cardboard pin up at the front door) a visit, and probably won’t in the short run. I despise over-rated eateries, in case you’re wondering.
The meal came to RM99/USD30 for the four of us, inclusive of rice and drinks.
YEW KEI SEAFOOD RESTAURANT (non-Halal)
No 1, Jalan Pasar,
31800, Tanjung Tualang,
Telephone : 605-360 6686.
Business hours : 11.30am – 9.00pm.
Directions : To reach Tanjung Tualang from Ipoh, you can use the Ipoh-Lumut Highway. Once you reach the traffic lights at a crossroad junction that leads to Batu Gajah on your LEFT, and Pusing on your RIGHT, take the LEFT turn to Batu Gajah town. In town, you will be able to see Tanjung Tualang signboards from now on. From Ipoh to Tanjung Tualang may take you about 30-45 minutes.